African campaigners call for shift to climate-resilient livestock systems

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The rapid shift toward regenerative and climate-resilient livestock farming systems will be key to rescuing Africa’s pastoralist communities from climatic shocks, campaigners said on Thursday ahead of the Africa Climate Summit to be held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

   Unsustainable livestock farming practices in Africa aimed at meeting a growing demand for meat have fueled the emission of planet-heating gases in the continent, threatening the livelihoods of nomads in arid lands, said Tennyson Williams, director for Africa at the World Animal Protection (WAP), an animal welfare lobby.

   According to Williams, intensive livestock production is linked to about 34% of greenhouse gas emissions, necessitating the urgency to regenerate and green the practice by leveraging home-grown innovations and policy realignment.

   He added that the African Climate Summit, slated for Sept. 4-6, offers a platform for policymakers, funders, and campaigners to reimagine livestock farming in the continent, ensuring it is more resilient, low-carbon, and sustainable. “We are calling for animal agriculture that promotes a just transition in the continent while enabling us to meet the food security goal without disturbing the ecosystem’s health.”

   He emphasized that given the disruptive nature of industrial livestock production, African governments should encourage local communities to adopt dietary habits that are friendly to nature and human health.

   Kenya, in partnership with the Africa Union (AU), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will convene the Africa Climate Summit next week, which will run parallel with the Africa Climate Week. To be held under the theme of “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,” the summit will be attended by heads of state and government, ministers, industry leaders, donors, innovators, and campaigners.

   Victor Yamo, farming campaigns manager at the WAP, said the summit offers a historic moment for the continent to accelerate the transition to green pastoralism as a means to tame the climate crisis.

   Yamo added that given its vulnerability to climate emergencies and public health challenges like the rapid spread of pathogens, Africa has no option but to shift to less chemical and carbon-intensive livestock farming systems.

   Huyam Salih, director of Nairobi-based AU-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources, said the continent should prioritize regenerating arid lands, water harvesting, and clean energy adoption in a bid to ensure livestock farming is climate resilient and financially rewarding.

   In addition, Salih said African governments should provide clean technologies, innovations, and training to nomadic communities to enhance their resilience in the face of climatic stresses.  

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